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The Oxford Handbook of Timbre Emily I. Dolan (Associate Professor of Music, Associate Professor of Music, Brown University)

The Oxford Handbook of Timbre By Emily I. Dolan (Associate Professor of Music, Associate Professor of Music, Brown University)


With essays covering an array of topics including ancient Homeric texts, contemporary sound installations, violin mutes, birdsong, and cochlear implants, this volume reveals the richness of what it means to think and talk about timbre and the materiality of the experience of sound.

The Oxford Handbook of Timbre Summary

The Oxford Handbook of Timbre by Emily I. Dolan (Associate Professor of Music, Associate Professor of Music, Brown University)

Despite its importance as a central feature of musical sounds, timbre has rarely stood in the limelight. First defined in the eighteenth century, denigrated during the nineteenth, the concept of timbre came into its own during the twentieth century and its fascination with synthesizers and electronic music-or so the story goes. But in fact, timbre cuts across all the boundaries that make up musical thought-combining scientific and artistic approaches to music, material and philosophical aspects, and historical and theoretical perspectives. Timbre challenges us to fundamentally reorganize the way we think about music. The twenty-five essays that make up this collection offer a variety of engagements with music from the perspective of timbre. The boundaries are set as broad as possible: from ancient Homeric sounds to contemporary sound installations, from birdsong to cochlear implants, from Tuvan overtone singing to the tv show The Voice, from violin mutes to Moog synthesizers. What unifies the essays across this vast diversity is the material starting point of the sounding object. This focus on the listening experience is radical departure from the musical work that has traditionally dominated musical discourse since its academic inception in late-nineteenth-century Europe. Timbre remains a slippery concept that has continuously demanded more, be it more precise vocabulary, a more systematic theory, or more rigorous analysis. Rooted in the psychology of listening, timbre consistently resists pinning complete down. This collection of essays provides an invitation for further engagement with the range of fascinating questions that timbre opens up.

About Emily I. Dolan (Associate Professor of Music, Associate Professor of Music, Brown University)

Emily I. Dolan is an Associate Professor of Music at Brown University, and specializes in late Enlightenment and early Romantic music and aesthetics. She is the author of The Orchestral Revolution: Haydn and the Technologies of Timbre, published by Cambridge University Press in 2013 and is working on her second book, Instruments and Order. Alexander Rehding teaches music theory at Harvard University. He specializes in the music of the nineteenth century, history of music theory, and media theory. His publications include Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003), Music and Monumentality (2009), and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (2017). He is editor-in-chief of the Oxford Handbooks Online in Music and series editor for a forthcoming six-volume Cultural History of Music.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION 1. Timbre: Alternative Histories and Possible Futures for the Study of Music Emily I. Dolan and Alexander Rehding PART I PHILOSOPHIES 2. The Matter of Timbre: Listening, Genealogy, and Sound Daniel Villegas Velez 3. Deconstruction and Timbre Naomi Waltham-Smith 4. Timbrality: The Vibrant Aesthetics of Tone Color Isabella van Elferen 5. Qur'an Alphabetics and the Timbre of Recitation Peter McMurray 6. Translations: Adorno and Dahlhaus 6.1. Introduction Thomas Patteson 6.2. The Function of Timbre in Music (1966) Theodor W. Adorno, translated by Thomas Patteson 6.3. On the Theory of Instrumentation (1985) Carl Dahlhaus, translated by Thomas Patteson PART II HISTORIES AND CULTURES 7. Ethereal Timbres Emily I. Dolan and Thomas Patteson 8. Timbre-Centered Listening in the Soundscape of Tuva Theodore Levin and Valentina Suzukei 9. Tracing Timbre in Ancient Greece Naomi Weiss 10. Early Modern Voices Bettina Varwig 11. Timbre Before Timbre: Listening to the Effects of Organ Stops, Violin Mutes, and Piano Pedals, c. 1650-1800 Deirdre Loughridge 12. Schoenberg as Sound Student: Pierrot's Klang Joseph Auner 13. Futurist Timbres: Listening Failure in Milan Gavin Williams PART III TECHNOLOGIES 14. Timbral Thievery: Synthesizers and Sonic Materiality Jonathan De Souza 15. Timbre/Techne Alexander Rehding 16. Technology and Timbre: Features of the Changing Instrumental Soundscape of the Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1914) Elizabeth Bradley Strauchen-Scherer 17. Don't Choose the Nightingale: Respighi, Mimesis, and the Limits of Timbre Arman Schwartz 18. The Naturalization of Timbre: Two Case Studies Alexandra Hui 19. Music for Cochlear Implants Stefan Helmreich PART IV PERCEPTION AND ANALYSIS 20. Perceptual Processes in Orchestration Meghan Goodchild and Stephen McAdams 21. Timbre as Harmony-Harmony as Timbre Robert Hasegawa 22. Timbre and Polyphony in Balinese Gamelan Michael Tenzer 23. Describing Sound: the Cognitive Linguistics of Timbre Zachary Wallmark and Roger A. Kendall 24. Timbre, Komplexeindruck, and modernity: Klangfarbe as a Catalyst of Psychological Research in Carl Stumpf, 1890-1926 Sebastian Klotz 25. Pitch vs. Timbre Daniel K. S. Walden 26. Where Were You When You Found Out Singer Bobby Caldwell Was White?: Racialized Timbre as Narrative Arc Nina Sun Eidsheim and Schuyler Whelden

Additional information

The Oxford Handbook of Timbre by Emily I. Dolan (Associate Professor of Music, Associate Professor of Music, Brown University)
Oxford University Press Inc
Winner of Winner, 2022 Ruth Solie Award, American Musicological Society.
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